Finding the Right Superconducting ‘Flavor’

Combining theory and experiments to save time, money in the search for promising high-temperature superconductors

EVENT: With more varieties than Baskin-Robbins ice cream, high-temperature superconductors — materials that conduct electricity without resistance — can overwhelm scientists trying to design the best materials for practical applications like high-efficiency power lines. But at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, scientists are saving time and money by modeling the properties of select superconductors prior to fabrication. Meigan Aronson, a Brookhaven physicist and a professor at Stony Brook University, will discuss this new method — called theory-assisted synthesis — and how it can help researchers identify new materials with promising superconducting properties.

WHEN: Monday, March 21, 2011, 3:06 p.m. Central Time

WHERE: March 2011 American Physical Society meeting, Dallas Convention Center, Dallas, TX, Room D165

BACKGROUND: Replacing existing conventional electrical conductors with superconducting cables would lead to more efficient transmission of electrical power and to lighter-weight electrical motors that would operate with practically no power loss. One of the most important steps toward wide-scale adoption of superconducting technologies is the discovery of new families of materials that are superconducting at room temperature. Then the bulky and energy-intensive cryogenic environments necessary for the current operation of superconductors would no longer be required. With theory-assisted synthesis, experimental and theoretical physicists work together to determine the electronic behavior of potential high-temperature superconductors without spending the time to actually produce them. Researchers use this information to decide which materials might have the most useful properties, and therefore, would be the best to fabricate. By modifying the combination of elements in the superconducting material, it should be possible to predict the compositions of new materials that can be expected to have improved superconducting properties.

This research is funded by the Department of Defense.

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